COLORADO SPRINGS, June 11, 2014 – Economics professor David Brat rocked the political world on Tuesday, defeating incumbent Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor 55-45% in a primary election. It is the first time in the history of the Republic that a sitting majority leader has been defeated.
How did Brat do it? By running a solid grassroots campaign emphasizing solid traditional Republican values.
READ ALSO: Upstart Brat gallops past Cantor
Those values also happen to be Tea Party values, which is perhaps why almost all the media branded him a Tea Party candidate and cast the race as Tea Party versus Establishment. It’s a dominant leftist meme. (Ultra-left magazine Mother Jones calls him a libertarian.)
There are several things wrong with the Tea Party assessment.
In a lengthy interview with Sean Hannity last night, Brat maintained that he is not Tea Party, a stand that he has consistently taken. He was not backed by any major Tea Party group. Indeed, after the McDaniel-Cochran primary in Mississippi last week, the Tea Party News Network wrote that the next major Tea Party versus Establishment fight would be taking place in Nevada, where former CORE spokesman Niger Innis was in a runoff against state congressman Cresent Hardy.
Hardy won last night. Oops.
Brat was backed by such conservatives as Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin but aside from a few well-known conservative personalities it was Brat and his grassroots team all the way. Ingraham even said that it was hard to get him connected to Tea Party groups.
So what does Brat profess to be his principles? As an economics professor, the first one is free markets. He says free markets are neither left nor right but rather economic opportunity for all. He’s right about economic opportunity, and when he speaks about the market he sounds very much in line with libertarians, Austrian economists, and…the Tea Party, whose platform has always included free markets.
In addition, Brat’s website says that he supports the “Republican Creed”:
- That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice,
- That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society,
- That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government,
- That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations,
- That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense,
- That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation.
That statement of belief, minus perhaps a consensus on national defense and faith, is the bare-bones creed for the Tea Party as well. Little wonder, then, that the leftist press gets it wrong. Everyone who opposes them is lumped into the same bucket of right-wing extremists. Since they don’t believe in the American founding, they really don’t understand those who do.
If Brat and the Tea Party represent close versions of traditional Republican values, what of Cantor and the so-called Establishment Republicans? (Remember that “Establishment Republican” is another invented term of the left: We call them RINOs.)
Cantor is one of three Republicans who wrote in September 2010 The Young Guns. The other two were Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy. In the book—and just ahead of the 2010 elections—they claimed to be leaders in the rising new conservative movement. Ryan called the liberal Democrats first elected in the 70s “dinosaurs.” Remember Cantor’s “You Cut” program?
Strong on cutting government spending, Cantor appears to have been weak on immigration amnesty and despite his $5 million, couldn’t make the case for his retention against Brat’s perhaps $200,000. That’s not to say that Cantor is a bad actor—just not the one Virginians want to get this country back on track.
In the fight for mainstream American values, we’re used to long odds and opposition from entrenched interests. As Brat said, dollars don’t vote, people do. The people seem to have said that while Cantor is certainly no dinosaur, he’s no velociraptor either. To put it another way, the Young Guns have had their shot. It’s time to bring out the big guns.